Friday Faceoff – In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is cats, so I’ve chosen Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – by T.S. Eliot.


This is playful cover is more than a nod to some of the earlier covers with the cartoon-like cats and cheerful colour – so much more fun than some of the other drearier offerings in the 1960s and 70s. It was produced in August 1982 by Harcourt Brace and Co., which sounds like the sort of publisher that would crop up in one of Eliot’s poems… I really like this one.


This edition, produced in October 2009 by HMH, is another really enjoyable cover with a number of the recognisable cats that feature in Eliot’s delightful poems. As well as being quirky and playful, this cover is attractive and eye-catching.


Published in 2001 by Faber and Faber, this cover continues with the bright background and cartoon cats. However, I think the whole design is spoilt by that ugly block running across the bottom of the cover for the title and author – and by 2001, they didn’t have the excuse that it was still the fashion that prevailed with covers.


This cover, produced by Faber and Faber in February 2014, is another strong contender. I like the madcap cat featuring behind the footlights – along with the distinctive font on the word CATS, this is more than a nod to the worldwide hit musical that came out of this collection of poems.


This is my favourite cover – mostly because I find it the most appealing and attractive, rather than because I think it is necessarily the best design. Produced by Faber and Faber in October 2010, I love the bright colourful design of the cats high-kicking their way across the rooftop. It may lack the quirkiness of some of the other covers, but the bold colours and well balanced title font sells this one for me. Which is your favourite?

20 responses »

  1. I like them all but — oddly, since normally I worship Gorey — the two Scheffler covers are my co-faves.

    Didn’t Nick Bentley illustrate the original edition?

    Ah. Just checked. Apparently the first edition (1939) was illustrated by Eliot himself, with Nick Bentley being commissioned for the hasty reprint (1940) . . . and one can see why!

    • Yes… I did visit the earlier covers, but was getting a tad tired of ranting about poor quality covers, so instead chose the ones I liked best… I hadn’t realised the story behind them though – so thank you very much for the extra information, John:)

  2. ah, see, but I MUST stand with Gorey, for I do so love him! I can’t help but wonder if they didn’t use him well enough with the cover choices. Like you said, that bottom block was ridiculous. Why not another design of the title having a place in a set piece like that first one? I wonder about the choice of orange, too. I don’t know if that’s a Gorey choice or the publisher choice. Perhaps if Gorey had done one of his wee-color touches with his inklings…hmm.

    But that last one *is* nice, for the record. 🙂

  3. I have to say that I like the Scheffler ones myself, but that’s because they remind me of one of my favourite children’s books which he also illustrates, Tabby McTat

  4. All of these are great! I like how they all stick to the same theme and feel a bit, the quirky playful cats. I think I also prefer the last one. I like the bright colors on the last one.

  5. Pingback: Caturday chat: Tokyo photographer Akiko Dupont – redesign life

  6. I like the second one the most: it has both playfulness and originality. The other ones aren’t bad, but none seems to be catching my eyes like the second one.

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